SUMTER, S.C. – Crews received a call Monday afternoon about a fire at Sumter Casket Company on Magnolia Street and worked until Tuesday to extinguish the final flames.
Sumter Fire, Shaw Air Force Base, Columbia Fire Department, Clarendon Fire Department, and Camden Fire Department were assisting, Ken Bell of Sumter County Sheriff’s office said.
Sam Brockington of Florence County Fire Rescue also said one engine crew from South Lynches also responded.
Fire Division Chief Brian Christmas said firefighters were focusing their efforts late Monday afternoon on the front of the building where there was the most fire. He also said crews were spraying several nearby large propane tanks to keep them cool.
By Monday evening, the fire was down to just a few hot spots inside the building, but firefighters were still working on the building late Tuesday afternoon.
Parts of US Highway15, including the Lafayette Street Bridge, were closed to traffic. Drivers were asked to avoid the area so emergency vehicles could get through.
Christmas said that officials still had not opened the streets Tuesday afternoon because the pressure from the hoses had moved bricks and debris into the roadway that had to be cleared. Officials reopened streets Tuesday evening.
Christmas also said that firefighters used a lot of water from hydrants, and city residents can expect discolored water for a few days.
So far there have been no injuries reported and the cause of the fire is still unknown.
A portion of the building was left standing, so it was not a total loss.
“The offices burned,” Christmas said, “but there was no fire in part of the warehouse. I think they are going to try to create some office space there for the time being and try to get the business up and going again.” He said the portion of the building left standing is about 125 feet by 50 feet wide.
Damages are estimated at about $750,000 for the building and $750,000 for the contents.